I’ve been reading a lot of Japan escapade since last year and I think Japan offers something for every kinds of traveler. In addition to its beautiful locations, however, one of the charms of the Land of the Rising Sun is its people. The Japanese hold their culture and history to a high degree and they are known to be reverent of their social manners and etiquette.
As the old adage goes, the best way to travel is to act, think, and behave like a local. Japanese etiquette is vast, but there are specific manners that apply to certain locations too. Sapporo—the capital of Hokkaido and one of Japan’s most promising hotspots—for example, has its own set of rules that every traveler should familiarize with.
Arm yourself with basic Sapporo knowledge and etiquette to make the most of everything the city has to offer.
Treat your palate to the many flavors of the city, which boasts of fresh ingredients and rich, distinct flavors. Try its popular Genghis Khan mutton or soup curry and finish it by taking a sip of its famous Sapporo beer after a filling meal.
Be a delightful guest by knowing basic restaurant etiquette. For self-service restaurants, make sure to throw away your used paper cups, plates, and food wrappers into the right garbage bin. If you booked a restaurant reservation, make sure to call in advance in the event of a cancellation of if you are running late for your schedule. Food establishments take careful consideration when booking guests and giving a heads-up shows respect for your hosts.
When paying bills, bring your receipt to the cashier or ask for a copy of it if it hasn’t been provided beforehand. Tips are also not a custom in Japan so expressing your gratitude to the staff after an exceptional service is a good option.
The city next door to nature, Sapporo is the perfect place for travelers who want some downtime and peace. The place is always bursting with the colors of the season, with its deep green forests during the summer and striking red and yellow greenery during fall season. Try mountain climbing at Maruyama, a designated National Natural Monument, which is mostly untouched virgin forest. You can choose from routes based on your stamina, and reach it by car, bus, or subway.
If you’re going to drive, familiarize yourself with road signs for the city’s wildlife. Gas stations in Hokkaido can either be full-service or self-service, some of which can close as early as 6PM especially if you are in rural areas.
Get your fill of adrenaline pumping activities or find your inner balance again by trying a variety of Sapporo’s sports and recreational activities. The city has a number of ski resorts that are a delight to visit during winter, with its powder white snow, and yoga studios where you can clock in if you just want to kick back and relax.
Take your Sapporo beer experience to the next level by visiting its birthplace, the Sapporo Factory, which now houses various events. Your itinerary will not be complete, of course, without visiting a shrine which merges art, culture, and history all at the same time. The Hokkaido Shrine in Maruyama is where you can learn more about Japanese culture and traditions. You can also drop by some of the city’s museums and libraries like the Watanabe Junichi Museum of Literature and The Archives of Hokkaido.
It is important to be mindful of basic manners when going around the city. For example, leaving cigarette butts and packs are strictly prohibited and may incur a fine. Walking while smoking in public places is also prohibited. Meanwhile, visiting a shrine requires strict etiquette like purifying the hands and mouth at the temizuya, the water ablution pavilion, before entering the sacred place.
Indeed, Sapporo is a feast for all the senses with its striking but beautiful contrasts and themes that leave their distinct mark on the mind’s eye. Its variety is a welcoming trait, so much that it feels home for everyone, whether you are a local, or a local at heart.